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Dec 02 2011

WTAE Air staff seeks fair treatment through online campaign

On-air staff at WTAE-TV (4) have launched an online petition and social media campaign, “Fairness 4 WTAE”, to urge Hearst Television to negotiate fairly with the AFTRA represented personalities. For more than a year, reporters and anchors seeking a first contract through collective bargaining at WTAE-TV have made no progress. After more than a dozen bargaining sessions owner Hearst is still refusing employee proposals for basic contract standards.

“Hearst has recently signed contracts with AFTRA containing similar basic standards in 6 other cities, so we feel that Pittsburgh deserves the same standards. Its basic fairness,” said AFTRA Pittsburgh Executive Director John Hilsman in a press release. “If anchors and reporters in Baltimore, Cincinnati and Boston, among others, are getting a fair deal, we don’t understand why Hearst won’t do the same here at WTAE.”

The campaign is engaging the viewing public via Twitter (@Fairness4WTAE) and Facebook (also labeled “Fairness 4 WTAE”) and shares stories about the mistreatment of some of their favorite local on-air staff by station management. Stories include having pre-approved family vacations cancelled at the last minute, recurrent last minute schedule changes and disciplinary action for refusing to come in, unscheduled, while sick.

The Twitter and Facebook pages highlight these employee fairness concerns. The online petition seeks viewer support for fairness for WTAE on-air staff and is part of a larger campaign including a postcard drive from viewer supporters. Both the online petition and postcards, addressed to Station Manager Michael Hayes, read “I have watched WTAE for many years and I hope to continue, but you and Hearst TV must respect our community and play fair in Pittsburgh. That’s why we are insisting that you bargain fairly with your Pittsburgh WTAE on-air staff.”

“Pittsburgh is a town that takes care of its own: we’re like a family. We have faith that our city will stand behind us when they hear how badly Hearst is treating its Pittsburgh staff,” added Hilsman.